April 12 — During the Information Session on Rare Earth Plant Issues held by MP Kuantan cum PKR Vice President Fuziah Salleh in Air Putih, Kuantan, a 60 years old resident, Chow Kok Chew broke into tears when sharing his past experience about the Asian Rare Earth (ARE) processing plant in Bukit Merah, Perak. Chow’s grief and fear for the rare earth troubles aroused sad emotion in Fuziah and the approximately 300 audiences, MP and many residents were sobbing together.
30 years ago, the ARE processing plant caused Chow took 10 family members to flee Bukit Merah for Kuantan. He had never thought that the rare earth processing plant will be operating soon in Kuantan – they are facing with the same fate and fear again.
"In the past, when I got off work every day, I was startled to see the yellow smoke emitted from the ARE processing plant in Bukit Merah," Chow said. He said at that time, his family was staying in Mengelembu, about a kilometre away from Bukit Merah. Soon after the plant in operation, cattle raised by the local were found dead after eating the grass nearby, and then more and more people were affected.
He hopes all the people in Kuantan will be united to voice out against the rare earth project. “I don’t want to move! I don’t have another 30 years, and I want to fight together with the residents in Kuantan. Don’t turn Kuantan into a dead city,” Chow said.
Fuziah responded to Chow in a tearful voice: "I feel your sadness, I have heard the voices of the people in Kuantan, and we do not want a recurrence of Bukit Merah."
Chow told the reporters those who have not experienced the Bukit Merah tragedy will not feel the immediate pain. Therefore, he hopes to stand together with the people in Kuantan to oppose the Lynas project, otherwise he will feel sorry for his family and descendant.
Chow further suggested Pakatan Rakyat leaders to stand up and speak for the people, not just letting Fuziah to fight alone.
Fuziah has 3 responsive plans – “the people to jointly protest”
According to Fuziah, she has three plans to deal with the rare earth project in Gebeng. She said, plan A is to continue educating the people, to explain the risks of having rare earth processing plant, and to collect public opinion.
"If plan A is ineffective, plan B needs the help of non-governmental organizations and media to jointly disseminate information about the issues, so to attract the attention of Greenpeace International, to further exert pressure on the government.
“If the above suggested plans are fruitless, plan C is to organize a sit-in protest at the plant,” she said.
At the same time, Fuziah disclosed Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Datuk Fadillah Yusof will meet the people in Kuantan after the Sarawak state election. The people are therefore encouraged to speak their mind to Deputy Minister of MOSTI.
Fuziah also calls for all the residents in Kuantan to stand united against the project of rare earth processing plant.
Do not benefit the People
"I would also challenge MB Pahang Datuk Adnan Yaakob to dissolve the state assembly, and to let the voters decide whether they would support BN again. To call upon the resignation of two MCA state assemblymen Datuk Pang Tsu Ming and Chang Hong Seong won’t help to resolve the issues," she said.
The vocal Lynas critic believes the insurance company is not willing to cover residents who are staying within 30 km from the plant.
"After the rare earth plant in operation, it will provide 30% of the world rare earth. The people will not benefit, because local has no direct involvement in the business," she said.
Fuziah further said, she will attend the briefing session on 20 April 2011 in Duta Village Beach Resort, Sungai Karang Kuantan.
On the other hand, PKR Pahang State Chief Datuk Fauzi Abdul Rahman said the rare earth processing is rather similar to the coconut processing, coconut milk is useful, but how to handle the residuals?
He said the government previously also stressed that the ARE processing plant in Bukit Merah was not harmful, but it turned out that many people were suffering from cancer.
In addition, after hearing a 12-year tax holiday is provided by the government to the Australian rare earth company, the crowd booed loudly to show dissatisfaction.
Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) President Haris Ibrahim, Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) President Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah and KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall President Tan Yew Sing are among those urge the government to stop the Lynas project in Gebeng.
When the vocal Lynas critic Fuziah walked into the hall, the crowd applauded